Computers, Tablets, and Printers

There are so many options for computers and printers on the market. But which are the best for at-home learning? How can we get the best experience without the inflated price?

Since I’ve been homeschooling my kids we use a desktop computer, laptop, tablets, and wireless printer. These are not all needed for homeschooling but they sure do make a smooth and fun experience giving us a variety of learning application. Needless to say, I’m a proponent to online and hands-on learning but that’s another story. Here is the technology equipment I enjoy.

Top Desktop Computer Pick

HP Pavilion, All-in-One Touchscreen

The large screen and touchscreen functionality makes it ideal for educational games and high performance programing.
Current models are priced from $600 and up

My family has had this desktop for years. In fact, we purchased it for a very good deal as an open box item and have not regretted it. Here are a few reasons I love the HP desktop for homeschool.

  • Durable – heavyweight and not flimsy
  • Lots of memory (along with our Amazon Cloud Service we haven’t seen a reduction in speed or performance)
  • Performance – we are able to use it for coding, educational games, and video editing projects without lags and delays
  • Reasonably priced
  • Touchscreen – we can design and use programs that require touch
  • Access to the Microsoft app store. Microsoft is huge in the education world so there are lots of options

Another Desktop for Graphic and Creative Learners

Microsoft Surface Studio

This baby is so powerful, has phenomenal graphic capabilities, fast processor, and a screen that moves to degrees. Other computers just don’t measure up.
Current models priced starting at $3,400. Microsoft does offer monthly financing as low as $151/month for 24 months.

We do not own this computer, but I definitely have had my eye on it. I have used it in-store several times during a Microsoft class. I considered not putting this desktop in my picks, but I couldn’t leave it out (even with the price tag) because it is a top purchase item on my wish list. I just don’t have a current need for it.

My daughter is migrating toward art and I think this would be awesome for her. My son loves building and drawing. In the future, I think that this would be ideal for his schooling. I can see myself using it to edit videos and all of my visual content. Here is what I love about this computer:

  • It is beautiful with a large 28″ touchscreen.
  • It folds down at angles that allow for drawing and drafting graphics.
  • Perfect for a visual content creator.
  • The processor is fast and for our needs will work without lag.

Top Laptop Pick

HP Pavilion Laptop

Budget friendly touchscreen Laptop
Current models start at $459

I have owned this laptop for about 6 months. We love it. Before my husband got this computer for me we used his HP large screen laptop. There have been no issues with either computer. This laptop functions as a second computer in our home for school. In fact, my kids are currently at the table doing an art project with it while I am using the desktop to write this post. Here are some ways that we use it.

  • I take it to co-ops where I teach classes.
  • My daughter takes it to classes outside of the home where a computer is needed.
  • When the desktop is occupied by a student or parent we have another computer that is available to use. It keeps our learning flow running smoothly.
  • We use it to do coding lessons.
  • Online learning programs that uses dual computer set-up (the teacher is on one computer while the student is on another). Quill is the one we use all the time.
  • It is touchscreen. So, it’s great for small kids.
  • We store our documents and pictures in the cloud and haven’t noticed any lags in processing speed.

Top Tablet Picks

Microsoft Surface Go

Small but it packs a big punch
Pricing starts at $399.00

The Surface Go is more like a laptop than a tablet. It is classified as a PC. I’ve used this device several times over. I was actually looking to purchase it when my husband earned the HP laptop at work. Here is what I love about the Surface Go:

  • Small like a tablet, but powerful to perform like a laptop (coding check).
  • Detaches from the keyboard. So, if I wanted to use it like a tablet I could.
  • Has access to the Microsoft app store. Microsoft is a proponent to education. So there are a lot of useful apps for educators.

Amazon Fire Tablet 8

Budget friendly, durable, and gets the job done.
This model starts at $79

Both of my kids have had Fires for over 2 years. I would suggest you get the insurance for $12. It is worth it. They replace the device for any reason. Here is what I love about the device:

  • Price, Price, Price
  • Most of the apps I needed are in Amazon’s app store.
  • Ability to have a separate profile for kids that allows parental control.

Here’s what I didn’t like (just keeping it real)

  • Ads on locked screen (You can pay to have them taken off)
  • There were several apps that I wanted that weren’t in the app store. I was able to find comparable apps on some.
  • My son had the 7 and he had issues with the battery. But his 7 only cost $29 and with the $12 insurance I was able to get a new tablet for him within 2 amazon shipping days.

Top Printer Picks

Let’s talk printers. When we talk about printers for at-home learning there are three things we need our printer to do: print fast, cheap ink cost, and quality prints. We recently upgraded our printer (from an OLD Brothers printer) and are loving it. I’m going to share my printer with you and then talk about a larger ink capacity printers I think you should also consider.

Brother MFC-J497DW

Multifunction machine with a high yield ink capacity
Prices start at $79 (Amazon often has it on sale for $49)

This is the printer we currently use. It accepts two types of ink cartridges: standard and high yield. The high yield cartridges are said to yield about 400 pages each. We have found this to be accurate. Here are some other reasons why I love this printer:

  • 400 pages per cartridge
  • automatic double-sided printing (I love that I don’t have to manually turn my pages)
  • Quality prints. I only buy genuine Brother cartridges. Generic cartridges are known to mess up your printer’s performance.
  • The 4 cartridges (3 color and 1 black) are low cost. The colors are $13 each and black is $22. I’ve never had to purchase more than one at a time. Those prices are for the high yield cartridges. The standard yield is cheaper.
  • It is multi-functioning: scans, copies, and fax
  • Wireless printer so I can print from my phone, laptop, and tablet.

Canon Pixma G7020 All in One Supertank Printer

This high yield printer blows my Brother’s printer ink yield out of the water.
Prices start around $317

This printer is more expensive but its ink output doesn’t compare. It can print up to 6,000 pages with black ink and 7,700 with color. It doesn’t use cartridges. The printer uses ink squirted from a bottle to fill the tank. Otherwise, it has all the multifunction properties of other printers. The color ink cost is about $12 each while black ink is $17.99.